|Based on these documents and your knowledge of the time period between 1775 and 1825, analyze the social, political, and economic constraints placed upon women that reinforced the Cult of Domesticity.|
| Even in
countries where they may be esteemed the most happy [women are] constrained in their
desires in the disposal of their goods, robbed of freedom and will by the laws, the slaves
of opinion, which rules them with absolute sway and construes the slightest appearances
into guilt; surrounded on all sides by judges who are at once tyrants and their seducers.
Thomas Paine, 1775
| I cannot
say that I think you are very generous to the ladies; for, whilst you are proclaiming
peace and good-will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an
absolute power over wives. But you must remember that arbitrary power is like most other
things which are very hard, very liable to be broken; and, notwithstanding all your wise
laws and maxims, we have it in our power, not only to free ourselves, but to subdue our
masters, and without violence, throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet.
Abigail Adams, 1776
| ... few New
York ladies know how to entertain company in their own houses unless they introduce the
card tables except this family... I don't know a woman or a girl that can chat above half
an hour, and that on the form of a cap, the colour of ribbon or the set of a hoop-stay
jupon. I will do our ladies the justice to say that they have more cleverness in the turn
of an eye than the New York girls have in their whole composition.
...you enter a room with a formal set curtsey and after the how do's, 't is a fine, or a bad day, and those trifling nothings are finish'd, all's a dead calm 'till the cards are introduced, when you see pleasure dancing in the eyes of all the matrons and they seem to gain new life. The misses...decline playing for the pleasure of making love--for to all appearance 'tis the ladies and not the gentlemen, that shew a preference nowadays....I cannot help shewing my surprise when I see a lady single out her pet to lean almost in his arms at an Assembly or playhouse...or to hear a lady confess partially for a man who, perhaps, she has seen three times...
Rebecca Franks, N.Y. 1781
| I object to
the word "obey" in the marriage service because it is a general word, without
limitations or definition....The obedience between man and wife, I conceive, is, or ought
to be mutual. Marriage ought never to be considered as a contract between a superior and
an inferior, but a reciprocal union of interest, an implied partnership of interests,
where all differences are accommodated by conference.
Ladies Magazine, 1782
Midwifery manual, 1793
| Our high
and mighty Lords (thanks to their arbitrary constitutions have denied us the means of
knowledge, and then reproached us for the want of it. Being the stronger party, they early
seized the sceptre and the sword; with these they gave laws to society; they denied women
the advantage of a liberal education; forbid them to exercise their talents on those great
occasions, which would serve to improve them.... Happily, a more liberal way of things
begins to prevail. The sources of knowledge are gradually opening to our sex.... But
supposing now that we posses'd all the talents of the orator, in the highest perfection;
where shall we find a theatre for the display of them? Man; despotic man, first made us
incapable of the duty, and then forbid us the exercise. Let us by suitable education,
qualify ourselves for those high departments--they will open before us.
Two Spheres of Life
A satirical print from 1800
pleasure I sit down to the best of my parents to inform them of my situation, .... When I
first came here I gave myself up to reflection, but not pleasing
reflections. When Mr. Boyd [her brother-in-law] left me I burst into tears and instead of trying to calm my feelings, I tried to feel worse. I begin to feel happier and will soon gather up all my philosophy and think of the duty that now attends me, to think that here I will drink freely from the fountain of knowledge, but I will not dwell any longer on this subject. I am not doing anything but writing, reading, and cyphering. There is a French master coming next Monday and he will teach French and Dancing. William Boyd and Mr. Wyman advise me to learn French... Mr. Wyman says I must learn Geometry before Geography, and that I better not begin till I have got through my cyphering.
We get up early in the morning and make our beds and sweep our chamber, and a little better finished. There's 4 beds in the chamber, and two person's in each bed, we have chocolate for dinner and for supper.
Student, Eliza Southgate's letter to her mother, 1797
| It is
women's appropriate duty and particular privilege to...implant in the juvenile breast the
first seed if virtue, the love of God, and their country, with all the other virtues that
shall prepare them to shine as statesmen, soldiers, philosophers and Christians.
Hannah Mather Crocker, 1818